‘Stupid’ fuel gets an­other shot in green-car race

The Detroit News - - Trump Administration - BY EMILY CHASAN Bloomberg News

It’s lighter, abun­dant and ready to take on Tesla.

Hy­dro­gen-pow­ered ve­hi­cles are gear­ing up to chal­lenge elec­tric ve­hi­cles again in the race for mass-mar­ket clean cars. This week, a much larger group of com­pa­nies signed on to a global coali­tion aimed at drum­ming up gov­ern­ment sup­port for the tech­nol­ogy that Tesla Inc. Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Elon Musk has de­rided as “mind-bog­glingly stupid” for cars. The firms also pledged to find a cleaner way to pro­duce the gas.

“Hy­dro­gen has

been

fi­nally

talked about as the ul­ti­mate solution for zero emis­sions in the auto in­dus­try for decades,” Hyundai Mo­tor Co. Vice Chair­man Yang Woongchul said on the side­lines of the Global Cli­mate Ac­tion Sum­mit in San Fran­cisco. "There was re­luc­tance be­cause the tech­nol­ogy of fuel-cell ve­hi­cles wasn’t ma­ture enough, but now it is."

What the hy­dro­gen be­liev­ers need next is scale. The South Korean car­maker, the first to masspro­duce fuel-cell ve­hi­cles back in 2013, is dou­bling down on its ef­forts and this year an­nounced plans to join forces with Volk­swa­gen AG’s Audi unit to “lead in­dus­try stan­dards.” The con­cept of hy­dro­gen cars – that emit only wa­ter va­por – has failed to gain pop­u­lar­ity af­ter de­clin­ing costs of lithium-ion bat­ter­ies and more charg­ing sta­tions made EVs more af­ford­able.

In the past five years, Hyundai has seen the cost of fuel-cell sys­tems halve and it ex­pects it to de­cline by at least an­other 50 per­cent in the next five years, said Yang. He is also a co-chair of the Hy­dro­gen Coun­cil, whose size has quadru­pled since it was formed 18 months ago to 53 en­ergy and auto firms.

The Coun­cil is

bet­ting 2030

els of man­age­ment at Quicken and that he would be able to in­tro­duce “hun­dreds” of ex­am­ples of loans that were part of the scheme.

A court de­ci­sion in De­cem­ber, how­ever, lim­ited the depart­ment to seek re­cov­ery on claims from April 23, 2009, and af­ter. The gov­ern­ment’s orig­i­nal com­plaint al­leges that Quicken’s fraud­u­lent con­duct oc­curred be­tween Sept. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2011.

Ac­cord­ing to a Sept. 7 court or­der, the Jus­tice Depart­ment re­duced the num­ber of loans and find­ings at is­sue from 487 on Sept. 1, 2017, to 125.

Mor­gan­roth said the gov­ern­ment is seek­ing re­cov­ery on only 100 of those loans; the other 25 are to help bol­ster the gov­ern­ment’s claims against the com­pany. He said Quicken Loans orig­i­nated 100,000 FHA loans dur­ing the case’s four-year time­frame.

“The gov­ern­ment had to ad­mit,” Mor­gan­roth said, “that the loan find­ings were base­less.”

The Jus­tice Depart­ment de­clined to com­ment be­cause the case is on­go­ing.

Gold­smith in the Sept. 7 court or­der said the re­duc­tion in loan find­ings at is­sue re­duces the bur­den of ex­pert tes­ti­mony the gov­ern­ment needs to pre­pare.

Buf­fone said in an ear­lier hear­ing that ev­i­dence in­cluded emails from com­pany of­fi­cials dis­cussing the “bas­tard in­come” of bor­row­ers. One email de­scribed how a cus­tomer was ap­proved for a loan af­ter he stopped pay­ing other bills and his credit score dropped 100 points.

Mor­gan­roth said Quicken is top in qual­ity and quan­tity for FHA loans, has the low­est de­fault rate and con­tin­ues to do business with FHA.

Court doc­u­ments filed by Quicken at­tor­neys say the com­pany can prove it had proper un­der­writ­ing prac­tices, com­plied with pro­gram and con­trac­tual re­quire­ments, and did not make false claims. It de­nies the ex­is­tence of speed bonuses.

Since the fi­nan­cial cri­sis, the Jus­tice Depart­ment has reached set­tle­ments with sev­eral ma­jor lenders, in­clud­ing J.P. Mor­gan Chase & Co., SunTrust Banks Inc. and U.S. Ban­corp, over poorly un­der­writ­ten FHA loans.

Gil­bert has said the com­pany won’t set­tle. Mor­gan­roth said at the ap­pro­pri­ate time, Quicken will mo­tion to dis­miss the re­main­ing claims.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment orig­i­nally filed the case in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., but Quicken won its mo­tion to move it to Detroit. A jury trial is sched­uled for 8:30 a.m. on March 11.

Eric Pier­mont / AFP/Getty Im­ages

The con­cept of hy­dro­gen cars – that emit only wa­ter va­por – has failed to gain pop­u­lar­ity af­ter de­clin­ing costs of lithium-ion bat­ter­ies and more charg­ing sta­tions made EVs more af­ford­able.

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